Adding fire power to its artillery, the Indian Army is looking to induct eight indigenously developed Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher systems. The Pinaka system is designed and developed by two private entities, the Tatas and Larsen and Toubro, in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The Defence Acquisition Council cleared a RFP (Request for Proposal) last November for six additional regiments at a cost of ₹14,633 crore. The Indian Army currently operates two regiments of the Pinaka, combat proven and used in the Kargil conflict, that can fire up to 12 missiles in 44 seconds.
As designers of the systems, L&T, the Tatas and DRDO have planned upgrades to address obsolescence. Interacting with BusinessLine, Jayant D Patil, Senior Vice President and Head - Defence and Aerospace, L&T Heavy Engineering and L&T Shipbuilding, outlines how L&T has helped deliver technologically ‘current’ systems. Edited excerpts:
Could you give us some details about the current status and number of Pinaka regiments and how many have been inducted?
Pinaka system was developed by the DRDO during early 90’s with L&T and Tata Power as development partners for the launch systems. After years of trials and evaluation and subsequent harmonisation, this weapon system was cleared for induction in the Indian Army about one-and-a-half decades back.
Being an indigenously designed and developed system, the same was technologically brought to the state-of-the-art status and two regiments were produced for the Indian Army. Since two indigenous technological solutions were developed, the Ministry of Defence implemented the recommendations of an empowered committee to source the Launchers and Fire control systems (Command Posts) from L&T as well as Tata Power in equal proportion.
In November 2016, a contract for two more regiments was placed almost six years after conclusion of negotiations against a June 2010 RFP.
L&T has been consistently working on the design, development and upgrades of the Pinaka. How has the company helped bring in indigenisation?
L&T was entrusted the responsibility of realisation of two Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher Systems (MBRLs) based on the concept and base specifications given by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE, a DRDO laboratory), but with low voltage battery backed system.
The Pinaka MBRL is designed by L&T as an artillery system that is built for operating in ‘silent mode’ and is based on all-electric low-voltage battery backed technology developed in-house. Pinaka Launchers and Command Posts have been serially produced by L&T with indigenous content in excess of 80 per cent, including the imported Inertial Navigation Sensor
Early this year, the DRDO tested a new version (Pinaka Mk-II) of the rockets, which can be guided to land on enemy targets. Can you give us some details on the extended range version of the rocket system, and L&T’s technical know-how which will boost the armoury?
The Pinaka Mk-II variant has been a joint development by the DRDO in collaboration with the user (Artillery User Directorate) to target a range of 60 km with enhanced terminal accuracy. This is to be achieved by incorporating aerodynamic correction features to modify flight trajectory with the inclusion of INS.
Having been the developer of the weapon launch system, L&T has been able to incorporate the necessary changes in the design to accommodate the extended range rocket pod assemblies.